I was on holiday in Greece many years back. One of the Greek islands. Can't remember which. Greece is so beautiful. You should visit some time.
I went touring here and there and ended up in an old taverna-type building near the sea housing a barber who also shared with a part-time plumber. He had three tables set out on the side-walk and was also serving coffee to passers-by.
I must say straight away I was not impressed by his wine list. That's because he didn't have any.
All he had to offer was a glass or two of retsina. It's a white wine infused with the resin of pine trees and tastes like turpentine. It can also be used as an after-shave lotion. A gulp or two quickly reaches the parts of your body that you were not aware existed and dulls them to oblivion. It is second in potency to ouzo. Another local drink whose potency certainly challenges that of any man.
I sat there in the hot sun drinking retsina and ouzo and wondering what I had made of my life, and why my girl-friend back in England had left me having stolen my shoes as she went. I had come here to forget her, which partly I did. It was the memory of those shoes that brought her back to mind.
I must admit I got to like the ouzo. And the retsina too. Hot sun, sea and drink. What else could anyone want? Apart from shoes?
I looked at the semi-deserted beach not far away. There were only four young women there. Probably on holiday just like me. They did not look local. They were having fun and one of them was taking photos of her friends. I wondered whether any of them had ever stolen her boy-friend's shoes. I thought of asking them; but thought better of it.
A few minutes later I was joined at my table by a man wearing a heavy fur coat. He could have sat at any of the other two tables available on the side-walk, but he sat at mine. Doesn't that annoy you? It's like when there is a totally empty car park at the supermarket and someone comes and parks near you.
I was intrigued that he was wearing such a heavy fur coat in this sweltering hot day. He was not a local. Probably another tourist who had not been acquainted of the local custom of wearing light, thin clothes in such heat.
It was so hot that the birds were using a jackhammer to dig worms from the ground. The fish in the sea were already parboiled. The chickens in the yard behind the taverna were laying fried eggs; so hot it was. I noticed the few trees around were fighting over a dog.
I was about to ask this man at my table why he was wearing such hot clothing when he spoke first.
"Vood you laike to poorchase a fur coater!" he asked in an accent I did not recognise. He was certainly not a local, as I explained, judging from his attire.
"A fur coat?" I exclaimed, "in this weather? A fur coat?"
"Eet Eeez faux-fur!" he replied looking left and right to ensure no one else heard him. He wanted to be inconspicuous. Which I'll admit he was, considering what he was wearing. Right in the middle of Greece, with people wearing bikinis, or almost nothing, and this man in a heavy fur coat would go totally unnoticed. Not one person would claim to have seen him.
"Faux fur?" I muttered, repeating what he had just said.
"Yeas ..." he whispered, looking behind him, "like in French faux fur ... faux pas! Understand?"
"Faux pas?" I said, "you mean you have the wrong father? Are you adopted?"
"No ... No ..." he continued, "not zee faux pas laike zee daddy. Faux pas ... laike in pas de deux!"
"Aha ... I understand," I said, "your father is the father of two children! You have a brother, or sister, no doubt!"
He seemed annoyed and impatient at the same time. I'm not sure which came first. He asked again, hissing through his teeth which reminded me of the Ten Commandments. All broken.
"You want poorchase fur coater?" he spluttered.
"No!" I said emphatically.
"How about one kilo of zee cabbages?" he asked.
I must admit the leap from a faux fur coat to a kilo of cabbages mystified my overheat semi-conscious mind. I took another sip of ouzo and said, "No thanks!"
"I have zee goat for sale," he insisted, "going cheap ... also a canary ... he going cheap cheap too ... also carpet ... you laike zee carpet? Anee sizes anee colour but not green. No have anee green carpet. Laike to poorchase one?"
"Yes ..." I said, trying to get rid of him, "I'd like to buy a carpet. But it must be a green one. No other colour will do. I'd like a green carpet. It will go well with my yellow settee and armchairs back home in England!"
I thought for a moment I had foxed him.
He said, "wait here ... I go get it ..." and ran away at the back of the taverna pretending to be a barber's shop and a plumber's place of business.
I continued drinking my ouzo, satisfied and triumphant that I got rid of him.
When I woke up, my shoes had gone. I still had my passport, wallet, money and everything else. Only my shoes had gone.
Do you think my ex girl-friend hired him? Was he my ex girl-friend dressed incognito?
I am totally confused and shoe less. She was called Ruth. So now I am also ruthless.